strategy_meetingThe sales profession is a dynamic landscape. From economic ups-and-downs to shifts in consumer trends, it’s necessary to keep a finger on the pulse of best practices in order to create scalable and repeatable success in your sales organization.

In its recent study on sales training and development, Aberdeen surveyed 260 organizations to determine the most effective sales training techniques. Aberdeen benchmarked Best-in-Class companies against average and laggard performing organizations. Companies were best-in-class if they:

  • had more than 80% of their teams achieving quota
  • had a 14% average increase in revenue
  • had a 9.5% year-over-year increase in average deal size

Here are the five critical points for sales leaders to take from Aberdeen’s sales training research:

1. Ongoing Reinforcement of Sales Training Is Vital to Your Sales Team’s Success

Best-in-Class sales organizations follow initial sales training with a formal plan for reinforcement. When compared against sales organizations who hadn’t implemented a reinforcement process, there was a significant gap in performance for:

  • Customer retention (74% vs. 67%)
  • Teams meeting quota (79% vs. 71%)
  • Reps meeting quota (63% vs. 55%)

According to the report, a strong reinforcement program consists of post-training follow-up, assessments, and ongoing investment into salesperson growth.

2. Enhancing The Sales Conversation Leads To Better Overall Sales Performance

A focused investment in a consistent sales messaging platform leads to a better-informed and higher performing sales team. Since today’s buyer is better able to research products and services before ever speaking with a salesperson, it’s crucial that individual reps are armed with the ability to nurture, negotiate, close, and service deals at all times. Buyers are looking for a personalized conversation, not a “standardized message.”

Aberdeen also reports that “improving the ability to engage senior-level executive decision-makers” is more popular than it was a year ago. A sales messaging initiative that focuses on uncovering needs with high-level business impact is critical to reaching decision-makers.

3. A Formal Sales Methodology Is More Than “Just A Luxury”

With an average annual sales quota of $894k among the survey respondents, and an average deal size of $137k, it is clear that companies need a formalized sales methodology to create effective, repeatable discussions at every stage of the sales cycle.

In fact, according to Aberdeen, “Whether developed internally or acquired with the help of an external sales training provider, a deliberate process to guide sales activities is essential to any organization seeking to maximize their sales results and grow their businesses.”

Best-in-Class organizations adopted these best practices as part of their sales initiatives:

Blended learning: Your team needs the flexibility to absorb content in whatever way works best for each individual.

Ongoing training:  Best-in-Class firms are 22% more likely than all others to refresh their teams’ training at least on a quarterly basis.

Given tools: Though sales staff may be told the most effective way to make a sale, unless they are provided with the right tools and support, they may not be able to translate it past head-knowledge.

4. Sharing Metrics Across Your Sales Organizations Leads To Better Equipped Salespeople

Best-in-Class sales organizations make company-wide sales information available to all sellers, creating, what Aberdeen calls, “tribal sales knowledge.”  Sharing metrics across the organization, along with having a central place to access sales best practices and tools, as well as a way for sellers to capture “institutional knowledge” drives sales performance.

5. It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint

It is important to invest – over time – in the implementation and adoption of a high-value sales process. Investing in both people and process is vital to the success of your sales organization.

Aberdeen’s research makes it clear that your sales initiative needs to go beyond the old-fashioned basics. Take the time to train your sales staff how to not only reach and impact high-level executives in the buying organization, but also make them audible-ready to customize their message to the buyer.

This kind of dedication to the transformation of your sales process can result in higher team attainment of sales quota, higher percentage of reps meeting quota, and better customer retention.